Anderson Plaza graces South Dakota Art Museum

As loyal supporters of the South Dakota Art Museum, Lynn and Diane Anderson had long dreamed of providing a significant gift to the museum to honor its dedicated staff and volunteers.

­A conceptual, below, shows how the Anderson Plaza will look in the springtime.

Little did the Andersons know that their dream—mapped out long ago—would also become a project honoring the memory of their daughter, Brooke Kristine, who unexpectedly died in 2005 at the tender age of twenty-six.
The new Anderson Plaza, on the east side of the art museum, was dedicated October 22, 2010. Lynn and Diane, former Brookings residents now living in Sioux Falls, were part of the ceremony.

The Anderson family says they hope that all who use the outdoor plaza will find it a place for relaxation, for study, and for a gathering place to celebrate the beauty of the South Dakota Art Museum and the surrounding SDSU campus.

“We’re ecstatic to have the Anderson Plaza as part of the museum grounds,” says Lynn Verschoor, director of the South Dakota Art Museum. “It will be a place for contemplation and conversation for visitors.”

The plaza honors Lynn and Diane Anderson’s late daughter, Brooke.

The 5,500-square-foot plaza was designed by Lance Meyerink, landscape architect and owner of Groundwater Inc. in Sioux Falls. Meyerink collaborated with SDSU Facilities and Services to create the plaza and its surrounding scenery, which consists of a 2,700-square-foot paved area, various greenery, and eight benches. The benches are dedicated to influential people in the life of the Andersons’ daughter; one bench recognizes the Brookings High School Class of 1997, from which Brooke graduated.

Though the Anderson Plaza is dedicated to the memory of Brooke Anderson, the inscription on the memorial plaque indicates that the public square also celebrates the dedication, vision, and commitment of the South Dakota Art Museum staff and volunteers.

Lynn Anderson addresses the crowd at the October 22,2010, dedication of the Anderson Plaza.

The South Dakota Art Museum has been an integral part of the Anderson family’s lives since moving to Brookings in 1986 from suburban Chicago. Diane volunteered as a presenter and chair of the Art in the Schools program for several years; she currently serves on the museum’s Board of Trustees. She also played an active role in fund-raising efforts that resulted in the expansion of the facility in 2000.

Today, the South Dakota Art Museum stands as a first-class destination, housing a repository of works by the state’s own Harvey Dunn, Oscar Howe, and other regional artists. In addition, it is home to the renowned Marghab Linen collection.

Remembering their daughter

Following high school, Brooke Anderson attended the University of Illinois, where she was an active member of Chi Omega Sorority and several campus organizations, graduating with a business degree in 2001. At the time of her death, the newly married Brooke was living her own dream in Chicago, employed in the Consumer Finance Division of General Electric.

“She was smart, focused, ambitious, articulate, and always had a plan for her life,” Diane says about her late daughter.

Brooke died June 15, 2005, of cardiac arrhythmia. Tests determined that her death could have resulted from Long QT Syndrome. The rare disorder, often present at birth, makes the heart’s electrical recharging system spin out of control, leading to fainting or death.

“A simple EKG might have alerted us to a problem, but like most young people, she never had one,” says Diane. “We hope her story will make other young people realize they shouldn’t take their health symptoms lightly.”

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